Joel MacLeod was diagnosed with cancer when he was five and the Ponoka Elementary School student has been in remission for four years.
“He’s now 10 and healthy,” said his mother Kim MacLeod on Friday night at Red Deer’s 8th Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research, community support programs and advocacy.
It’s also the fourth year MacLeod, along with family and friends, have raised money under the banner the Ladybug Ladies, named after the lucky insects and in honour of her son she used to call “bug.”
The 12-hour event at Crossroads Church brought together participants to celebrate the lives of people who have survived cancer, remember those who have been lost and raise money to fight the disease.
The Ladybugs raised $11,371 this year, beating the $10,000 they raised in 2008.
“I never thought we’d beat last year’s. Especially this year with the oil field so slow. That blows my mind,” said MacLeod decked out in a rain poncho as it drizzled.
Organizers hoped to raise more than $330,000.
About 800 people on 81 teams gathered at the relay where teams of 10 took turns walking or running around the track throughout the night and morning until 7 a.m.
The relay, put on by the Canadian Cancer Society — Alberta/Northwest Territories, began with 130 people taking the survivors’ victory lap. Luminaries were lit during a ceremony at dusk to honour to loved ones.
“It’s very moving experience. It’s hard to put into words,” said MacLeod.
Next Friday, Stettler will host its first Relay For Life.